Saturday, 19 July 2008

Review of Sashenka (Montefiore) in today's FT

In this weekend's edition of the Financial Times I've reviewed the new novel by the prize-winning historian who gave us Young Stalin and The Court of the Red Tsar. The narrative of Sashenka will come as no surprise to admirers of those histories, as its main action takes the reader back into the close circle of the Georgian Man of Steel (pictured here in stone.) And undoubtedly there is no end of dramatic material to be found in the Soviet archives: "What fascinates (Simon) Montefiore is the degenerate world of the tyrant’s court: fanaticism, self-interest, treachery, paranoia."

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Hang the DJ: rock scholars start listing...

The Bookseller reports on a forthcoming title from Faber and Faber in which I'm pleased to declare an interest:
"Faber fiction editor Angus Cargill has drawn on his personal love of music to produce a book of music lists chosen by high-profile literary names. Hang the DJ: An Alternative Book of Music Lists (Faber, October) contains eclectic top 10 song choices from writers such as Jonathan Lethem, Hari Kunzru, Patrick McCabe and Michel Faber... Lethem contributes “10 Smutty Moments from Bob Dylan”, David Peace offers his “10 Favourite Japanese Bands”, and Cargill has also included his own list of “10 Songs of Heartache, Misery and Woe”, which include “Let Me Down Easy” by Betty Lavette and Dolly Parton’s “Jolene”. Cargill said: “We did a book last Christmas called Ten Bad Dates with De Niro [by Richard T Kelly] which was a film compilation and did nicely, so we had the idea of doing a musical equivalent.”
Great idea! I can't wait for the finished item. I contributed a list of my own to the book by request, a canon of the best 10 'power ballads', that dubious term narrowed by definition to mean tunes that reveal the sensitive side of otherwise extremely hard-rocking turn-up-to-11 artists. I won't waste time being coy on Who is my #1: see photo above. This brilliant image of the 'Orrible 'Oo is by Richard E. Aaron, and you can find it on his Flickr photostream.